Amongst the species of bears, black bears are the most common in the garden and residential areas. On average, their length ranges from 4 to 7 feet while their weight is usually from 200 to 600 pounds. They have a stocky body, thick legs, straight face, flat shoulders, short tail, and pointed ears. Most of them have black fur, while there are also some that are gray or chocolate brown. They may be shy, but their sense of smell is strong, which makes it easy to determine food supply that they will ravage.
One of the most common characteristics of bears, especially in the case of black bears, is that they are highly adaptable. This provides them with the ability to survive in a wide range of habitat. They are most active from dusk until dawn, with most of their feeding activities happening at night. They can live in tundra, forest, meadows, and forests. They prefer places with thick vegetation, providing them with ample amount of food supply. Some species of bears live exclusively in cold locations.
Identifying Bear’s Damage
Since bears are ferocious eaters, they can eat almost anything not only in the wild, but even in your garden. Because they are opportunistic, they are not picky in terms of their food. While they eat mostly meat, they can also feed on a wide array of plants. To be specific, some of the plants that they will eat and damage include melon, sweet corn, berries, parsnip, clover, dandelion, and apple, among others.
Unsure if bears are the culprits for damaging your plants or the garden? The following are some of the signs that you should watch out for:
- Because of their large size, one of the easiest ways to determine their presence is through looking for their footprints. Only the impressions of the toe and the sole will be present on the surface in the case of black bears.
- In trees, stripping of the bark is one of the common signs. They use their strong claws and mouth to feed on the inner bark of the trees. They will also most likely leave territorial markings. These marks will be evident 4.5 to 6 feet above the ground.
- In the case of fruits, vegetables, and crops, there will be missing parts of the plants. They will smash the stalks of corn and eat the whole cob.
- When you wake up the next morning and see trash scattered in the garden, chances are, it is because of the bears. They are big enough to knock down even large bins and scavenge through garbage.
Results of Infestation
The infestation of bears is a serious concern, especially because they harm even humans and can damage your property. In commercial plantations, they will destroy crops even before the harvest season. They can strip tree barks and will disrupt the flow of nutrients, leading to unhealthy growth. They will also feed on whole crops, such as corn. In the worst of situations, they will lead to loss of profit as growers will no longer be able to sell what the bears will damage or eat.
How to Get Rid of Bears
Natural and Organic Solutions
There are no chemical solutions that are recommended for the control of bears in the garden. Rather, it is better to resort to humane and non-toxic ways, which include the following:
- The best thing that you can do is to keep the garden and your property clean. Trash cans are some of the most common attractants for bears. As much as possible, keep the garbage bins indoors or in any other place where bears will not see them. Barbecue grills should also be hidden from their sight.
- Bears also attack birdfeeders. If you cannot completely keep the garden free from birdfeeders, make its height at least ten feet, which will be impossible for bears to reach. It should also have a strong foundation so that bears will not easily knock it down.
- Compost pile is another attractant for bears. With this, be sure to enclose compost so that bears will not find them. Burying compost may not work as bears can still smell them. It will also help to avoid adding sweets and meats in compost as bears will feed on them. Sprinkling lime on the compost will also help as bears hate its pungent aroma.
- Proper timing of harvest will also be effective, although this will work more as a preventive measure. Pick up fruits that have fallen from the tree. This way, there will be no food for bears in the garden or within the yard.
- Fencing is also an excellent solution for the exclusion of bears. Traditional fences, however, may be too weak. As strong creatures, bears will easily destroy them. Concrete perimeters and electric fencing will work.
- There are also commercial products that will be effective scare tactics for bears. There are motion detectors that automatically emit lights or sounds when bears are nearby. It will prevent bears from getting near your property.
- Having a can of bear spray at home is also a good idea. It contains capsaicin or pepper. When you spot a bear in the garden, about 40 feet away from you, pull the trigger. It is important to note, however, that you should not use the spray if there is no bear within sight. This solution is not meant to be a preventive measure against bears.